Flying by the Seat of My Pants

“To use one’s judgment, initiative, and perceptions as events unfold in order to improvise a course of action without a predetermined plan.”

Another week, another saying for a title, another chance to search for the origin of the saying…yay, Internet! And, many wasted minutes trying to figure out if the saying is technically an “idiom” since that sounds so much more cool – but I can’t be sure, I’m not an English major People! So without wasting any more time “saying” it is…

“Flying by the seat of one’s pants” came out of the days of early aviation, before fancy instruments, when pilots had to fly by feel and instinct, especially when visibility was poor. The seat of the airplane, being a fairly large source of contact between pilot and plane, was apparently useful beyond being a place to sit in the cockpit.

In regards to this blog, I definitely feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Each week I sit down to write, without a real plan of action, with a vague direction from a list of ideas I keep, and generally (except that one stuck time) several hours later I have some words down that make some sense. I hope.

It’s really a little weekly miracle, at least to me.

Julie Renfro - Still Life #6 - in progress

[ If you’re wondering where all the “art” is in this Artfull Life blog, it’s mostly been in my head lately, but today I spent a good 4 hours at it, mostly in the studio. Nothing much to report at this time, except that there’s Forward Progress and forward is always good. I hope to have this Still Life finished in a couple of weeks at the most. ]

Planning to Develop a Plan

I need a plan. If I had a dollar for every time I have either written those four words in my journal or had them float through my head, I would not be rich, but I could buy a nice lunch for myself and Mike. We could even have wine.

But I’m serious this time, I need a plan. And by that, I mean a better way to engage with my short and long-term goals (starting with actually writing those down someplace official), to be intentional about how I spend the minutes and hours of my days. I tend to get done what needs to be done each day, but each week flies by and then it’s been a month and I realize I haven’t been in the studio! How did that happen?

This needs to stop. I can no longer have my life just whiz by without me taking notice.

So I have been on the hunt for a daily planner, because that will make all the difference in the world, right? A new, blank, Book of Planning Potential, finally, will help me make a plan (does this enthusiasm, perhaps, remind you of my Self Help Book addiction?)

Years ago I used a Franklin Planner at work, and I loved it. Made me feel organized and together (at least at work). Then everything gradually went digital, and our organization’s task management moved online.

For my project and task lists, I’m currently using Trello, online and on my iPhone. And while this works for keeping all my To Do list items organized, it doesn’t help me with looking at my months, weeks, and days to see where and how I want to focus my time. And my Google Calendar has no…warmth. I’m a paper and pencil person at heart, so the idea of adding a paper planner back into my system appeals to me (not to mention all the sticky note and highlighter potential).

But I had no idea that my search for a planner would make me feel like Goldilocks: this one is too big, this one not laid out right, this one too frilly, this one too antiseptic. None just right. My criteria, apparently, are hard to find all together and with nothing else. I just want:

  • Month views
  • Week views, with a daily column for SEVEN DAYS. Many planners make Saturday and Sunday these little half columns…or Saturday is full but Sunday is half…my weekends are just as full as my weekdays!
  • Days broken down in time increments to suit me (my day starts earlier than 8am and goes later than 6pm)
  • Places for notes
  • A pocket/sleeve for additional papers

I do not want:

  • Inspirational quotes (I’ll pick them if I want them)
  • Sections titled something I would never call them or that are not of use to me (“hot”…really?)
  • Pages for figuring out my life’s purpose or goals (I’ll work those out elsewhere)
  • A planner that weighs more than my laptop
  • The above mentioned half day Saturdays and Sundays
  • A planner that costs as much as a decent pair of shoes (or more!)

Sorry to go on about this, but I’m sharing what turned out to be a QUEST! If I didn’t have enough on my plate, I would design my own damn planner and start a Kickstarter campaign to fund it (I’ll put that in the Someday/Maybe pile).


ANYWAY…after visiting every version of those “Best Planners Ever” websites, I found Seize the Day Daily Planner. It does not have the full week view, and I wish it were a brighter color (it looks gray but it’s “mint”), but it is a good size and weight, has month views, and each day gets a page with a layout I like: hourly list section on the left (starts at 6am, goes until midnight) and large notes section on the right, plus space at the bottom. Clean and simple.

Month names and dates are blank, so I can start now (it’s almost March! Again, how did that happen?) It only has 120 pages of daily planning, but if it works for me, I’ll buy another 2 for the year.

If not, the Planner Quest continues.

A Course of Action

This blog is likely to remain a Flying by the Seat of My Pants Operation, at least for a while (I’ll just consider it a weekly challenge), but I need to be more intentional with how I structure my days and weeks in order to:

  1. get the art-making in that I want
  2. get all those practices (that make me feel great) done daily
  3. get to all the things I want to see, and do, and read/learn

Essentially, to live that artfull life I’m in pursuit of! I’m hoping that my new planner will help. Or to put it better, that I can create a new habit of planning (with my new planner assisting). We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.



This entry was posted in Creative Life, Creative Spirit, Motivation.


  1. Barb February 29, 2016 at 10:03 AM #

    Good Luck with your planning. I keep a bottle of White-Out next to my day/week planner. ;~)

  2. Julie February 29, 2016 at 2:58 PM #

    Thanks, Barb! So good so far…:)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.